Well, I almost made it! I almost had all the secular, materialistic things completed before Christmas Eve. Thank you to my mom and daughter, Theresa, in wrapping the presents for me.
Nonetheless, I didn’t complete the lasagna as I had hoped on Friday. I had the last minute food shopping to complete, knowing it would be a congested drive, and long lines at the stores…………I approached the day with prayer, and relaxation. As I sat in my car in traffic, I prayed the Living Rosary that I am a part of through Novenas Daily. It was extremely comforting, and helped me stay centered on Jesus vs. the hustle and bustle of the day before, the day before Christmas!
My shopping took 7 hrs. to complete, although, it didn’t feel like it. To me, the traffic was not horrendous, and neither were the stores. It was as though my guardian angel was clearing a path for me wherever I went, and expecting to stand in line for check out did not happen at all. Everything moved very smoothly to me. Though I have no idea why it took 7 hrs. to complete it all…………obviously, I give the glory and thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ. I must have been surrounded with all the angels and saints from heaven as I moved throughout my day, not to notice the time it took to complete the tasks!
I will admit, as the day did progress, so did the pain……..which I give to the Holy Souls in hope that it will help them. By the time I did arrive home, the pain was becoming intense and yet, I knew, I still had more to complete with every intention of completing it all. Once again, I told God, my plans, and he let me know his…………..by 10 p.m., the pain and exhaustion put me to bed.
Christmas Eve morning, I was determined, AGAIN, that I would finish what needed to be done by 2 p.m., to be able to attend 4 p.m. mass at our parish church, arrive at my in-laws for the festivities and then attend the mass they enjoy at 10 p.m.
Alas, I again, told God my plans, and he had other plans. I missed 4 p.m. mass at our parish church, instead I was in the shower working hard to manage to arrive at my in-laws sooner than later. I arrived at 6 p.m., the bones were moving slow, and as the night was moving forward so was the pain.
By 8 p.m. at my in-laws, the family was beginning to go their separate ways. My one brother-in-law and his wife, along with my two nephews were leaving to prepare for 10 p.m. mass at the school where she teaches. My other brother-in-law, his wife, and my niece were leaving to get some last minute chores accomplished at their home before the 10 p.m. mass. I asked my husband if we could leave, and instead of driving out to the school for 10 p.m. mass, attend mass at our parish church, due to the intensity of my pain.
The kids had their hearts set on mass at the school with their Nana, aunts and uncles. I knew I blew the 4 p.m. mass, and was willing to sacrifice our parish mass for the school mass if that is what God wanted from me. However, my pain was intense by the time we arrived home. I knew I couldn’t make 10 p.m. mass at the school, yet I knew I could attend the parish mass because it is less then five minutes away.
My family left for the school mass. At 9:30 p.m., I left for the 10 p.m. parish mass. As I parked my van, and started walking towards the church my spirits began to lift. As I crossed the street, I noticed an older man, by himself, walking towards the church. I stopped and waited for him. I wished him a “Merry Christmas”, asked him if he always attended the “Midnight Mass”, he said “yes”. I stated how I hadn’t been to the “Midnight Mass” at our parish in years, and it felt wonderful returning this night. We enjoyed a little chit chat, then we entered the church.
As soon as I walked in, my breathe was taken away, I felt as though I was breathing in the Holy Spirit! I felt “I was home!”. The church, in it’s simplicity, was beautiful! I actually could not decide where to sit, I was awe-struck by the fact that I was even in the church AGAIN for the Midnight Mass, I was stunned at the reality of standing there. It had been so very long since the last time I attended Midnight Mass in the church I was baptized in, made my communion in, along with my confirmation, and graduated grade school in. I felt so at peace within my heart and soul. My last memory of Midnight Mass at the church I grew up in, was my late teens. It truly started at midnight, it was packed full, standing room only, and at one point we all held candles in the darkness of the night. Wonderful memories.
I finally chose my seat in church, knelt and prayed. As I was sitting back, the gentleman I met outside the church came into the pew I was in, and sat near me. It brought such joy to my heart, I instantly felt even more of a stirring in my heart. I thought it was beautiful how God brought to individuals who attended mass alone, to be able to sit near each other, as though we attended together, and when it came time for the sign of peace, I was able to shake this man’s hand, not as a stranger, but as a friend, and truly mean when I said “peace be with you and Merry Christmas”. I shook his hand as I would an old friend…………..it was more then the normal “peace be with you”, it was God-inspired and such a blessing to me! Thank you Lord!
As the mass began, I noticed the baby Jesus in his cradle on the altar. I was wondering when He would be placed in the Nativity. My question was answered at the end of the mass. Our Monsignor asked all of us to stay after the final blessing, as he would process down the main aisle and up the side to place Our Lord, Jesus Christ into the Nativity. He also stated, “as The Baby Jesus passes you, make sure you give him your intentions and to say thank you to him.” The altar boys started the procession with the Crucifix, followed by the Deacon and the Bible, followed by the assisting priest, and then Monsignor carrying the baby Jesus. It was an absolute inexpressible moment of how I felt when baby Jesus passed by me, as though it was the true Babe, Himself. I knelt and said my prayers, looked at how beautiful he was, and now as I write this, I realize why it was so touching to me……..my favorite statue of Padre Pio is with him holding the Baby Jesus on Christmas morning proceeding down the church’s aisle, as did our Monsignor at “Midnight Mass”.
The feelings that overcame me that night were indescribable, except to say I will now be attending our church’s “Midnight Mass” vs. the school “Midnight Mass”. Nothing can replace that feeling of the joy, happiness, and hope that the parishioners were singing that night. The lightness of my heart, and the happiness of my soul will always be a cherished memory to me, that one day I hope to be able to pass onto my children, and grandchildren. The Baby Jesus was there that night, during that mass and everyone who attended, felt it and knew it.
The miracle of being present at my parish church on Christmas Eve, this year of 2011, will forever be in my heart. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for once again, pouring Your blessings down upon me.
May you all continue to have a blessed and peaceful Christmas holiday.